GENEVA, 30 January 2013 - The countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) have the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world. The number of people living with HIV has almost tripled since 2000 and there are currently over 1.4 million people living with HIV in CEE/CIS.

The HIV epidemic is affecting ever younger, vulnerable adolescents in CEE/CIS, and yet it is masked by official overall HIV prevalence rates that are, for the most part, relatively low. Still, within these countries, we are seeing sub-groups of young people with infection rates on a par with the worst-affected populations in sub-Saharan Africa.

The spread of HIV in this region goes hand in hand with the social exclusion of those who are most vulnerable. Those who are most likelyto become infected with HIV are those who are already shut out of society or denied services because of their poverty, ethnicity and behaviours that put them at risk, or who are made vulnerable because of family breakdown, violence, social exclusion or conflict with the law.

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